Summer in the City

Every year we do your great migration north from Florida in late April. See https://suddenly70.ca/2016/11/14/the-great-migration/ (to read about our migration south). We pack up the dog, the glider, the car, clean up the condo, put our Florida cars on trickle chargers, fill the bird feeder, organize my lovely cleaner, Reitha to come in and vacuum bugs, set the air conditioner at 84, turn off the water, put papers, telephone and internet on vacation stop, book motels for the return, and head up Hwy 19 to 90 and then up the mountain highways in the Carolinas to eventually cross at Fort Erie into Canada.

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glider at a dry field

The glider gets parked in the driveway as the glider port is usually too wet to tie it down there, and this summer season has a big surprise for us. It rains often, and gliding is infrequent. But that is another story. The Toronto house needs a fresh up, although Renate has popped in once a month or so to dust etc. and my dear friend Liz has kept an eye on it. The heat has been lowered all winter and the garden is not yet awake, but it is good to be in our northern home. Aren’t we lucky snowbirds?

Oscar, our Schnoodle dog, is very excited. Once we hit the outskirts of the city and open a car window, he knows we are almost in Toronto. Charles takes him for his round the block and I settle in to make lists, which I have in the kitchen and bath, and on my computer calendar; groceries, appointments, dinners, golf season, and many concerts and plays, phone calls to my sister announcing our safe arrival, and we start the major carry in of all our stuff, then the unpacking and laundry sorting.

We are hungry and I search the freezer for goodies. I can usually scrounge something, and there is always beer and wine around to get us started. It is cool in Toronto at this time, but amazingly sunny, something that is pretty elusive during the upcoming summer months.

Our appointment calendars are filling up with doctor’s visits and the beginning of summer cultural events and entertaining. This summer will be different as we are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and I have organized a luncheon at my golf club for family and a few old friends, some of whom were at our wedding. Best of all I have booked our three sons and their families to come to Toronto to join in the festivities. That would include our two grand daughters, Rose and June from Quebec, and our newest grand daughter, Sway, from Vancouver. Our plans include a trip to the Stratford Festival for the opening of the season, and this year we have invited our middle son, Niels, to join us with our daughter-in-law, Kate, to come to the opening of Guys and Dolls, a production that we are supporting. Corby, Sway’s dad and Kate’s husband, can’t come to Toronto until the night before our celebration, same with James and his brood. The logistics seem daunting, but I started planning this months in advance.

the party and video of wedding in 1987

The weekend of our fete there were 10 of us sleeping in the house. My excitement was palpable. The lunch was delightful with superb food stations created by our excellent Chef Tucker, lots of bubbly, Graham Howes, who played at our wedding, played this perfect sunny Saturday, and a video running all afternoon of our wedding back in 1987, for all to see. It was a jolly event. The best though was later at home sitting with the kids around the kitchen table drinking scotch, eating yet more food, laughing and enjoying ourselves as a family. Brilliant.

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the family at home

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 Stratford with Donna Feore, the director, Kate and baby Sway, Bill Shakespeare et al

Guys and Dolls was terrific; great dancing, singing and much nostalgia for myself. I know every song, a most enjoyable and exciting evening. I have seen it three times now and suggest if you live in Toronto and can get to Stratford, don’t hesitate. The Stratford Bus is a great option for those who don’t want to deal with the traffic on the 401. I wish it made a stop at the Kipling station to enable more west enders to take the trip. We also saw Twelfth Night, not compelling, but entertaining, and a wonderful fast paced Romeo and Juliet that captured perfectly the youth of the protagonists. Later in the season we saw The Breathing Hole an original play about our environment, using Indigenous actors. I think this play could use a scissors here and there to tighten it up. The giant puppet polar bears were my favourite. And we were totally enraptured by The Madwoman of Chaillot, a period piece from France that made us laugh and think. Both Charles and I thought the ensemble cast led by Seana McKenna was exceptional. We were quite breathless with delight at the end.

I attended the final two performances of the Canadian Opera Company. One, Louis Riel, I had sung in 1967. I portrayed a Metis, obviously not type casting, but I was still at the university in the opera school, and it was pretty exciting singing at the O’Keefe Centre with the big guys. Please see Aria: Song of a Life or just go to riki-turofsky.com for more info about my career and life that may be of interest. At any rate, this was a new production, well sung and acted by Russell Braun and Simone Osborne, but my heart remains with the original performances. We also saw my favourite opera Puccini’s Tosca. The music is gorgeous and this production was excellent. I fell in love with the tenor Marcelo Puente who I believe will have a fine career. Not only is he startlingly handsome, he has a voice with power to match. Adrianne Pieczonka is marvellous as the doomed heroine.

Moving away from music, Charles and I went to the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. We were enthralled by her work and the wonderful cookbook ‘Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe’, that I purchased gives a real insight into not only her recipes, but also her wild and unusual life. We headed over to the Royal Ontario Museum for the Blue Whale exhibition ‘Out of the Depths’, which is extremely well done and informative as well as emotionally moving. We later in the summer took Rose and June there when they visited us for a long weekend. I believe they were totally moved by it as well, and learned a great deal. That same weekend we went to The Aquarium along with every other child, adult, retiree, or so it seemed, in Toronto. It is a wonderful place to visit, but perhaps better when it is not a summer vacation time. It was packed. I did love the sharks swimming overhead, but too many people.

the Aquarium
ROM exhibit and Rose  and June enthralled

Our summer in the city also included a trip out of the city to the Montreal area where our grand daughters live. We really can’t get enough of seeing them. We always stay at Chateau Vaudreuil which is near to where our son lives in Sainte- Anne- de- Bellevue. This hotel is charming and we are always treated well with an upgrade to the Presidential Suite. The location on the lake is lovely, but the area suffered a great deal with all the rain. We visited the Nichoir which means nesting place or bird house, and this particular one in Hudson, Quebec, is a rescue/sanctuary for injured birds. We all enjoyed looking at the birds and learning about their special needs.

Le Nichoir and the garden that feeds the birds

After our visit with the girls, we left to go to Ottawa on our way home, well not exactly on the way, but worth a side trip. Charles wanted to see the Canadian War Museum as this is the 150 anniversary of Canada and we had heard about a splendid exhibit honouring Vimy. It was a stunning display, and I was moved to tears. Charles also spent some time viewing tanks and war vehicles while I did some catch up on my i-phone. We walked to the National Gallery, a magnificent building, and viewed more exhibits recognizing Canada’s anniversary. It was a lovely day and we walked everywhere. There were masses of tourists, mostly families, but we were able to find an outdoor café for lunch, and ate in the very fine Restaurant Eighteen for dinner. The food and wine were superb, but the place was empty probably because Ottawa closes down on a Sunday night, government town in the summer. Our hotel room at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, paid for with points, yah, was tiny and almost perfect. The bathroom wouldn’t fit both of us at the same time, but all the amenities were fine. I swam in the ancient pool, which probably hasn’t changed since the 1900’s and was advertised as heated, but someone forgot to light the coal fire and it was frigid. I persevered at any rate and felt quite virtuous when I ate my breakfast in the gold lounge also included in the rate of the room. Ottawa is a marvellous city with a river running through it and the parliament buildings standing guard.

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The War Museum and National Gallery Ottawa

Our summer is supposed to be filled with golf and gliding. The weather has not cooperated. Charles has had one great flight of 500 km and taught some students, and taken children with disabilities for inspirational flights, and done a lot of hangar talking. It has rained almost every Thursday, which is my main golf day. I have looked and felt like a wet rat most weeks, but have laughed it off. Our guest days have been stellar with terrific themes as only the women of Islington Golf Club can create with much laughter and fun always.

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crazy golfers dress for underwater theme day

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another golf theme day celebrating the 150 birthday

Food plays a very important part in our lives. I love to cook and will at some point share some of my recipes and menus from our many dinner parties. Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods and there is a plethora of good restaurants. We walk about 10 minutes to one of our favourites, Azarias. It is noisy, lively, and the offerings of small plates with great variety appeals. The Tv’s on the walls usually show a ballgame or tennis match and we often as not meet someone we know. The host and owner, Mark, is delightful, and always tries to accommodate us. The food is inventive and delicious. Sushi Kaji is a special treat Japanese Omakase restaurant about a 7-minute drive from our house. The menu changes about every three weeks and we sit at the bar and watch Kaji work his magic. This is an expensive meal, but worth it if you like the freshest of fish and fascinating small dishes, and want to celebrate a special occasion. Kaji trained a young man called Ian Robinson, and he and his sister Kati have opened a simple sushi place on Harbord Street near Ossington called Skippa. The fish is like silk and the prices are reasonable for great quality sushi. It is popular already although it only recently opened. It takes about 20 minutes to drive there from our house.

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Kaji at work

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Ian at work

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Maitake mushroom salad at Skippa

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proud Canadian

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sunset over the eighteen hole

Along with eating and thinking constantly of menus to serve my guests, I swim every other day at a busy indoor pool, do Pilates, walk the dog many times a day, and have been on my bike once. Hmm. I try to walk half the golf course, and Charles works out as well as walks the dog. We have to keep ahead of the food. And speaking of food, we are heading to France to see Vimy in the north, the beaches on the coast of Brittany, and old friends. I will take notes and pictures and report when we return.

Bisous,

As they say in France-basically means kiss kiss on both cheeks. Getting ready to speak French once again.

Riki

 

 

 

 

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